Crafted from Oblivion
Crafted from oblivion, Paris-based, Japanese artist Aoi Kotsuhiroi defines herself as an ‘emotional pornographer’. Beyond fashion designer, photographer, poet, or sculptor, Kotsuhiroi is a puzzling entity who hunts within herself to craft pieces full of emotions and beauty. World-known by iconic hand-carved designs which she says she sells to the devil who ‘lives in Japan actually’, those ‘body objects’ are part of a mysterious transcend world of forgotten stories that play in a fetish dimension. As scars in your psyche, her art comes along loaded with imagery through photography and poetry where the artist exposes not just her naked body but her naked soul. Forging balance in contradictory senses, she builds conversations off-time with primitive, tribal materials in powerful erotic heels, evanescent vague saturated photographies levitating in unconscious dreams or in words that resonate brutally like a nostalgic beast. In Exotic Regrets she writes, “She wanted to make moments that did not exist, a sort of relationship, images that made her happy,”. Between conceptual art and traditional Japanese techniques, Aoi Kotsuhiroi’s art is far away from concepts or understanding. Her art path is a passage, a search, an intent for connection with the soul, to feel the inside with the weapons you have.
GATA: You have described your past as similar to “a memory that has already been forgotten”, however, is there something that remains? What was your journey up this point; producing the work that you do?
Aoi: It is difficult to stabilize on memory, we re-craft our memory every night. Memory is uncertain, oblivion is a safer, a more "reliable" path. I need oblivion to build things. There is a freshness in oblivion, a « possible » that is stimulating. Oblivion is not a lie, unlike memory which can be.
G: You try to distance yourself from labels such as “designer” and have rejected a relationship with the fashion industry, seeing yourself not as a fashion designer but an artist in principle. How would you describe the craft behind your work?
A: All these stories of labels are there to reassure people and structure them. They need to know that this is a painting, or that is a sculpture, that way everything is tidy, everything is in its right place and everyone is reassured, nothing is overflowing and everything is well-behaved.
I peeled off the labels and put them in the garbage. And I feel more free to do what I want and to talk about what interests me or not.
A label is a boundary and boundaries bother me. I think I crossed these personal boundaries that we set for ourselves out of fear or out of obligation, whether the gaze of others finds you "guilty" or "not guilty". I want to be far away so that I can grow without the weight of a label on my head.
G: In your words: “Art is a form of neurosis, an escape of confinement and seeking in the Other, the object of an almost impossible understanding”. Do you think art can be fully understood or is it just a link between reality and beyond the nervous system?
A: Art is a porous border that we decide to cross or not and it is this crossing that can develop a number of relationships. Then it's your own cooking with its connections and what you do with it. But first we should agree on the definition of what "art" is, which is a sufficiently transformable, malleable and doubtful material ...
G: Human hair, horns, wood, and bones. Your materials share a connection to ancestral or ritualistic themes. What is the reason for exploring these ideas?
A: There is something very special about these materials, which is that they are alive and that they contain in themselves a kind similarity of DNA with ourselves. My gestures and my writing are both more just and in their right place with these materials, they have an internal vibration and a reasoning which is a motor for me, both of reflection and of attention. They carry within them a very particular memory which is a dialogue with the distant.
G: Do you embrace discomfort because it’s a more effective way of producing your work?
A: Discomfort is a perception that attaches to both a context and characters. Each of us has a special relationship with discomfort and its disturbance or stimulation. I forgot what discomfort is, I don't even ask myself that kind of question anymore.
G: You have said previously that an artist finds their path by using an environment, building relationships that allow one to structure and refuse certain things. Do you find there is a dissociation between the path of the artist and the path of a person. If so, how do you separate these entities from one another?
A: Each case is a particular case, we cannot make an amalgamation between the journey of an artist and another artist, who are also people, all this is very vague and hazy. We would have to start with a very precise example and that would be sociology, and not poetry. And if the human interests me, he interests me as a poetic character and not as a sociological character.
G: As a practitioner of Butoh dance, do you connect your work to the concept of death creating life; the transmutation of the human body into the unconscious.
A: Butoh for me is a global and general awareness. You feel the moment in a form of absolute and self-effacement. Consciousness will take root or not. It will of course depend on your capacity to let go, to know that you are no longer acting, you are no longer this actor of yourself, you are this yourself, lost in the flow of time.
Butoh can be something attached to some form of magic and you can slide to the forgotten spirits because your body and soul are about to cross to the other side.
G: Also as a poet, your words are linked to the objects as part of a whole, which discipline sets the roots on a developing concept?
A: The relation to “concept” does not suit me. It is a too wrongly and misused word, this word belongs to the realm of philosophy and I let philosophy take care of it. I am not attached to any discipline, I just have affinities like a desire today to dance with this or that. There is the field of desire, the one of envy, of discovery, of wanting to learn and learn again, and to make again because I am not happy, because I have not gone far enough, or because beauty deserves our attention. And that this beauty is fragile and that these moments are rare and that I would like to preserve them as long as possible.
G: Are there any particular influences that have helped define your work, or is it less conscious, coming from dreams or the unconscious?
A: All influences are possible, and at the same time none are possible. Refusal is as important as acceptance. The Subconscious has fun making us believe that it is right and the Conscious tells us the opposite. We swim in complete contradiction and we have to deal with that.
G: In your words “The fetish object, is a story of structure and organ of warrior poetry.” You have played with concepts such as fetishization or fixation; for you, are these objects, weapons, a way to focus your emotions?
A: How to do without emotions? I operate in this delicate field of emotion and desire. The object is a weapon to climb the ladders of emotion. It stimulates the soul stifled in its daily constraints. Boredom is a disease that eats away at you and devours you. The notion of conquest is an inner journey that will develop your senses and your surpassing. The object brings the unknown, that intangible part that forces you to react, to seek the Origin.
G: What is your first movement ‘Dystopia’?
A: "Dystopia" had to fit somewhere, but after maturation everything was Dystopia. So it became unnecessary, and I had to go deeper.
G: Exotic Regrets, La Mère Noire des Profondeurs, Nothing but Words to Learn to Lie, Prophecy, your series are enclosed in some kind of chapters, where do these chapters come from?
A: It's a kind of climate of the moment, which generates a certain number of conditions that allow such or such a thing to happen, to germinate, to be in confrontation, to have to act.
G: You keep your holes, gaps, that void of missing pieces or fear near to you because you need them to create. How do you cope being in close proximity to such dark ideas, without being eaten alive by them?
A: The question of the "dark ideas » is a story of perception and character. For me, they are not dark ideas, but for others maybe. Each individual has their own fears and anxieties and it is difficult to generalize. And sometimes plunging into your own fears, can make you grow. It's a kind of face to face that you can decide or not, understand or not.
G: Any upcoming projects you can talk about?
A: There is no project in particular, just a desire to push things further and another moment is taking root. I'm burying it so it tells me what's going on underground, what the earth has recorded, and I'll listen to that underground soundtrack and maybe I’ll tell you what’s going on.
G: In past interviews, you said you like to watch movies in your free time, do you have any recommendations?
A: Four koan-shaped films in which the question of the original face is revealed in an encounter with our own self in this infinite odyssey.
"Apocalypse Now Redux" by F.F Coppola
"Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter ... and Spring" by Kim Ki-Duk
"Shara" by Naomi Kawase
"Bellflower" by Evan Glodell